Hills, hills, hills

Photo of Richmond Road

This is another aspect of Brighton – the hills. There are hills everywhere and my car doesn’t like them. You go down, you go up, it’s never finished. Brighton reminds me of Lisbon, which is the town in Europe that was my “coup de foudre” in French – my “love at first sight”. Everywhere you walk in Brighton and in Lisbon you can see the other side of the city. There is always something new when you turn the street.

Comments about this page

  • I think this picture is of Wakefield Road. Richmond Road starts from the top of the hill from the other side of the Cat’s Creep.

    By Dennis Andrews (18/06/2004)
  • Yes, this is Wakefield Road all right; the picture depicts graphically the hilly nature of the area. I lived for my first 19 years in Prince’s Crescent just round the corner from the end-on junction of Wakefield and Richmond Roads. In those days (1950s) of many fewer cars, parked and moving, we used to play football in the road outside our house, and at regular intervals the ball would get away from us and roll round the corner and down the steep incline of Wakefield Road: it took a fair sprint to recover it. Later, when I went to school at Brighton, Hove and Sussex Grammar (1960s), I cycled there and back, requiring the ascents of Old Shoreham Road on the outward journey and Wakefield Road on the return, and all with just a three-speed Sturmey-Archer gear. There used to be a tiny old-fashioned grocer’s shop about a quarter of the way down, run by an elderly man in a white coat called Mr Heavens (his name, not the coat’s); his trade was killed off when a self-service mini-market opened next to the Roundhill Tavern around 1960. Once a month on a Sunday morning the Salvation Army marching band would come down Crescent Road, along Prince’s Crescent and turn smartly down Wakefield road on its way to Congress Hall in Rose Hill (I never found out where they started from). Wakefield Road only had houses on one side; the other was a high retaining wall beyond which lay the Sylvan Hall Estate, on which I did a paper round for five years, morning and evening. The Cat’s Creep was the unofficial name for the long, steep stairway connecting the top of Wakefield Road with Roundhill Crescent; its correct name, which was on no signs and was never used by locals, was Lennox Place. I’ve never been to Lisbon, but I now live in Bath, and that’s all hills too; and like Brighton you can see either side of it from the other.

    By Len Liechti (10/07/2008)
  • Leonard Liechti. I remember you from the Downs School, back in the 1950s. Must be the same one, surely? Shouldn’t think you remember me. I was Honor Dixon, then Honor Patching, when my mother remarried. We moved to Portslade in 1958.  When we lived in Richmond Road, I seem to think we called the steps Jacob’s Ladder, rather than the Cat’s Creep but I could be wrong about that.

    By Honor (23/10/2008)
  • As a lad I used to use “Cats Creep” to get from the top of Wakefield Road down to Roundhill Crescent too. I recall the locals used the name “Jacobs Ladder” for the long flight of steps that led up from Bevendean to the northern end of Bevendean Road, Brighton.

    By Alan Hobden (12/11/2009)
  • Alan – that accounts for my confusion, I lived in Upper Bevendean in the 1970s so that will be where I got Jacob’s Ladder from. My brother told me I was talking rubbish too and it was definitely the Cat’s Creep.

    By Honor (24/01/2010)
  • Yes, Honor, that’s me. Since Honor posted the above comment we’ve had a great e-mail conversation and she’s added a splendid picture of our second year juniors class from the Downs School to MyBH. Alan, I remember you from the Downs and from Brighton, Hove and Sussex Grammar – you were one year younger than me. You lived on the Sylvan Hall Estate near my home in Prince’s Crescent and we kicked a ball about once or twice. Of the Cat’s Creep, I recall on several occasions hauling my heavy old BSA touring bicycle up its 116 steps. Why, I’ve no idea – perhaps I just wanted a change from pedalling or pushing it up Wakefield Road!

    By Len Liechti (31/01/2010)
  • I work in the large white office building on the corner of Richmond Rd and D’Aubigny Rd – does anyone know what the building’s original purpose was?

    By Helen (03/08/2010)
  • Hi helen, in reply to your question regarding the office building in the corner of Richmond Road, I seem to remember that at one time it served as offices for Cox’s pill factory, which in the seventies was on the site of what is now Sainsbury’s and backed on to the main building. In more recent years it was used by a firm called Amplicon, who I believe dealt in sound equipment. At one time I have seen photos of this building going back a number of years and if my memory is correct I think it was on the James Gray collection. I hope this helps.

    By Chris Groom (07/12/2010)
  • On Richmond Road, years ago, there was a golf ball factory where they used to recondition golf balls, it was not far from Mayo Road on the right going towards Wakefield Road and on the corner of Mayo and Richmond stood a very fine pub – the Victoria Inn. I had my first pint in there. Is it still there? We do not have pubs like that here in Australia. [Sorry to tell you, Gary, The Victoria has been converted into flats – although mercifully the pub facade remains intact. Comments Editor]

    By Garry Lockwood (29/01/2011)
  • I am so sorry to hear that news, it’s enough to make a man cry, but the facade being saved is very good news. Thanks.

    By Garry Lockwood (31/01/2011)
  • Like so many things today, Richmond Road has seen more than it’s fare share of change. I well remember the golf ball factory, and also the Mayo laundry, which was also on the corner of Richmond Road and Mayo Road facing the Victoria pub. The Victoria played a large part in the community in times past and I must say that I started a modest drinking career at this very pub many years ago. Many people felt greatly saddened when this fine pub eventually closed, due to shrinking customer numbers and lack of investment from the management company, and was there after converted to two “Town Houses”. I suppose a sad sign of the times. Now with the lack of a nice local pub one has to travel quite someway to find anything on a par, not to mention that in the old days, if I had fallen over on the way back from the Victoria I would have been half way home already. So if in your area you have a good community pub, value it, and use it, or lose it as we did.

    By Chris Groom (14/02/2011)
  • We used to call it ‘Cats Creek’ as kids in the late seventies, and yes, I remember running down Wakefield Rd after many a ball and sitting on skateboards down it. Mayo Road Laundry was derelict when I lived in Richmond Rd. It used to be a brilliant playground for us kids with all the pullys. The Victoria pub frequented by our parents (whilst we were sat in the car outside) used to be run by friends of my parents who swore it was haunted by a little girl. Such great memories of growing up there. We were lucky enough to have a orchard at the bottom of our garden. I’d love to see it now.

    By Sharon Carne (12/07/2011)
  • More memories of Richmond Road (notwithstanding the picture of Wakefield Road!). When I were a lad back in the fifties the Mayo Laundry and the Victoria were still very much going concerns, as was Corrall’s coal yard at the bottom of Richmond Road where the old Lewes Road station on the former Kemp Town branch used to be. I’d spend ages watching the shunter moving the coal wagons round the sidings. You could also look across the Hollingdean Road valley to the council incinerator depot and the abbatoir – gosh, what glamorous surroundings we Roundhill kids lived amongst! Of course the term “inner city area” hadn’t been coined then, but I guess that’s what it really was, with all the grand houses on the north side of Richmond Road having been converted to flats and rented out, and it became increasingly run down as the sixties and seventies progressed. Of course all the commercial and industrial landmarks have gone now, but on more recent visits Richmond Road itself seems to have been tidied up a fair bit, presumably as city-centre property prices rose – all for the better, I guess.

    By Len Liechti (12/07/2011)
  • I have only just discovered this social history site and it has stirred a lot of old memories. A previous entry by Len Liechti dated 11/7/2008 speaks of a small grocers shop in Wakefield Road, owned by Mr. Heavens. This was my Father and I was born over the shop in 1940 and lived there till I married in 1960.  Also the Cats Creep was used by my friend and I every day, forwards and backwards to school in Lewes Road. I sometimes helped out in the shop and may well have met you, Len.


    By Jean White (26/06/2016)

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